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  • Writer's pictureSam Kelokates

Prime Day Ideas: Your Complete Guide to Managing Headache at Home with Physical Therapy Equipment

Updated: Feb 15

As we navigate our daily lives, headaches can be an unwelcome and frustrating companion. Whether it's tension headache or migraine triggered by various factors or other headache type, finding effective ways to manage and decrease pain is important.


Especially at home!


Having the right equipment and tools at home can significantly enhance your ability to self-manage and provide much needed relief without the use of medications if possible.

With Amazon Prime Day upon us, I thought this to be the perfect opportunity to list a range of equipment and devices that can help you better manage headache at home.

In this comprehensive guide I’ve listed some of the tools I often recommend to my clients and patients when designing personalized treatment plans to manage headache or migraine.


From modalities that provide therapeutic heat and cold therapy to self-massage devices and exercise equipment, I've got you covered in the guide.


Modalities


In physical therapy, "modalities" refer to treatments used to promote healing and decrease pain. These modalities are often used as a complement to therapeutic interventions, like exercise or manual therapy to augment treatment.


These treatments are easily transitioned to home programs as well. I often teach clients how to properly apply hot packs, cryotherapy (ice packs), and neuromodulation devices to help with pain management.


Here are the most common things I recommend:


TENS 7000

TENS, which stands for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, works by delivering low-voltage electrical currents through electrodes placed on the skin, targeting specific nerves involved in pain perception.


When applied to the forehead or back of the neck for migraine, TENS can help block pain signals, promote muscle relaxation, and release endorphins, in order to provide relief and possibly stop an attack.


Here is an more in depth article about TENS for Migraine:



This non-invasive and drug-free approach has gained popularity as a complementary therapy for migraine sufferers in recent years.


This is because it offers a safe and convenient option for managing migraine-related pain and has been effective for many in stopping attacks.


Another benefit I find for generics device like the TENS 7000 compared to other name brand devices for migraine is that it can also be used all around the body.


So, if you also experience low back back pain, shoulder pain, or knee pain this device can be helpful in managing pain in these areas so you can avoid using more medication.


Cryotherapy

Cryotherapy, also known as cold therapy, involves the application of cold to reduce inflammation, numb pain, and decrease swelling.


Ice packs, cold compresses, ice baths, and cold sprays are commonly used modalities for cold therapy. There are two products I recommend for cryotherapy at home to my patients.


One of my more often recommendations are ice caps, or head covers that help reduce pain related to headache. I usually recommended the TheraICE cap because it provides good compression as well as can be pulled down over the eyes.


The other cold device I like to recommend to clients is the Koldtec Headache Halo. This can also be used around the head like the TheraICE cap.


But this isn't the only way to use this one particular ice pack.


One way I have clients use the Halo is by lightly wrapping around the neck. This is because a neck wrap can aid in reducing pain due to migraine in 30 minutes.




Heat Therapy

This modality involves the application of heat to the body to increase blood flow, relax muscles, and reduce pain. This can be particular helpful for those with tension-type headache, cervicogenic headache, and neck pain.


Heat can be applied in many ways. Like through hot packs, heating pads, warm water baths, or paraffin wax treatments.


My personal favorite is the Huggaroo Microwavable Hot Pack. I have used this for years while I was learning to manage my own tension-type headache.


I like the weight of the hot pack over the shoulder, how long the heat lasts, and the aroma of lavender is particularly relaxing for me.


Exercise Equipment


Exercise can play an important role in managing headache disorders. This type of equipment can be used to help strength muscles that support the neck and head, improve proprioception and neck stability, or decrease neck pain.


Laser Head Lamp

This device is great for assessing and training the neck to improve cervical stability and motor control. I often use this for patients that exhibit difficulty turning their heads, or often talk about feeling like their head is heavy, or say they feel "unstable."


I have my own Lalomo Laser Head Lamp device in which I use to assess neck proprioception and motor control.


Then I design an exercise program that can help to improve neck dysfunction that could be contributing to neck pain, restrictions in mobility, and improve balance for my clients.


Here is an example of how I use the laser head lamp:




Resistance Bands

Resistance bands or tubing are great tools to use at home. They provide versatility in application, and don't take up a lot of room like free weights do.


With resistance bands, I provide clients with exercises that help strength muscles that help to stabilize the head and neck, and muscles that further support out posture, called scapulothoracic exercises (see video below).


Most programs I design consistent of a combination of these exercises, that range from no resistance to high resistance.


There are plenty of options throughout amazon and other sites. This is one just one device that I particular find useful and able to be used for more than just headache exercise.


Example of band exercises:




Soft Tissue Mobility

Soft tissue mobilization can target the muscles in the neck, shoulders, and upper back that commonly contribute to tension and pain.


Physical therapists may use various techniques such as kneading, stretching, and deep pressure to release muscle tension, break down adhesions, and restore normal tissue mobility.


But many of these soft tissue techniques can be performed at home as well to help maintain pain control between PT sessions as well as upon discharge.


Here are two tools that I find helpful in self-soft tissue mobilization:


The first is the Cervical Peanut. This tool is create for self-massage and trigger point exercises of the neck. It's perfect for those who have trigger points of the suboccipital muscles at the base of the skull.


Here is a video on how I have used this tool to help in headache management:


Many times the Cervical Peanut comes in a set with a single massage ball and another device. These can also be used for headache treatment for those with pain between the shoulder blades or of the upper trap.




The other tool I often talk with my clients about is the theracane. This device is perfectly shaped to help you reach those difficult spots on your back and shoulders.


You can use the theracane for trigger point treatments and self massage techniques to help decrease neck and back pain, and reduce muscle tension that can contribute to headaches.





Health Monitors


Wearable devices have emerged as valuable tools in supporting the management of many diseases, including migraine and headache disorders.


These devices are designed to be worn on the body and offer various features to monitor, track, and potentially alleviate migraine symptoms. The type I device I recommend most often are smartwatches.


My favorite smartwatch right now is the Garmin Vivosmart 5. While I was learning to manage my tension-type headache it provided me with valuable data. At that time I was using the Vivosmart 4, but have sense upgraded over the years.



The data from the watch gave me insights to my resting heart rate, stress levels throughout the day, how I was sleeping, and if I was recovering adequately. By analyzing this data I was able to find patterns in my own headache.


With clients, we use this data in the same way. We analyze their health data and discuss ways to manage stress, improve heart rate, track physical activity, and improve sleep and recovery.


By using a smartwatch we can find patterns that may not be as apparent with a Headache Journal/Diary, and is a great compliment in managing migraine.


Summary


Here is a list of devices, tools, and equipment that I often recommend to my clients to support them at home and improve their ability to manage migraine on their own.


I don't recommend all patients get all of these items. We work together to determine what their goals are, what impairments we need to address, and what is the best way for them to achieve their goals.


These items listed above are the most common items I recommend across many patients. They offer many treatment options and can aid in helping my client better manage their headache disorder with fewer visits to the doctor or physical therapy.


About Me:


Hi, my name is Sam Kelokates, PT, DPT. I am a licensed physical therapist and owner of Kelos Physical Therapy, located in Philadelphia, PA. I specialize in the non-pharmacological management of headache and migraine disorders.


Disclaimers:


This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not replace professional medical advice or treatment. Always consult with a qualified healthcare provider for personalized guidance and recommendations.


**I may earn commissions for purchases made through the links in this post**

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